Philosophical narration, dialogue, or exposition that has little to do with the plot, usually of the same vague nature as what a first-year philosophy student uses to pad out, lengthen, expand and/or decorate his term paper.
When a movie, television show, or other such narrative wants to simulate or create the illusion of more depth than it actually has or possesses, it can can use Fauxlosophic Narration to have some character, whether it be protagonist, villain (especially the Nietzsche Wannabe), or innocent bystander, (especially The Philosopher) talk about "Big Topics", like Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Dream, Delight, Destrucity - or maybe Delirium, - not to mention Life, the Universe, and Everything. This overall doesn't add, expand, or complement anything to the story; rather the intent, the goal, the desired effect is to put more Faux Symbolism and Mind Screw (True Art Is Incomprehensible, after all), and make the story's characters and events seem grander and more fantastic, while also being more generalized and increasingly vague at the same time. This usually backfires or otherwise fails, as the faux intellectualism is both insulting and distracting to anyone who has the brains to figure out this narrator is speaking a lot of words and phrases and clauses that don't actually mean anything, and in-universe, this just ends up as a Red Herring.
It may be an attempt to change a character's purported wisdom from an Informed Ability. It doesn't work.
Post Episode Trailers use this quite often to mask the actual events of the coming episode.
A product of the desire to Contemplate Our Navels, and maybe of attempts to do a Private Eye Monologue. Is not used so that Evil Sounds Deep. When the author uses this to convey a message, it can overlap with Author Tract. When a character, not the author, does this, it becomes Holding the Floor. If particularly nonsensical, this can become Word Salad Philosophy.
Anime & Manga
- Eureka Seven's next episode previews. This one is pretty ingenious, actually-it actually is relevant, usually, but the ambiguous language ("the boy" and "the girl" instead of "Renton" and "Eureka", for example) makes it sound like it could be talking about anything, because that's not pretentious or anything.
- Renton making his in-episode monologues addressed to his sister oft treat into this as well.
- Same for Gasaraki.
- Also the same for Elfen Lied.
- The narrator from Armored Trooper VOTOMS displays some of the funniest and yet most entertaining examples.
- Outlaw Star episodes always start with an opening narration, some of which fall into this category; most of the rest are universe building or exposition.
- The ruminations about life and love that begin and end each episode of Boys Be....
- Vash does a form of this in the Post Episode Trailer at the end of each Trigun episode. There are three exceptions: Meryl recites a capsule description of him for the trailer to the Recap Episode; Vash as a child does the narration for "Rem Saverem" (the Whole-Episode Flashback); and Vash gives up on the philosophy entirely and breaks down for the trailer to "Live Through".
- Suzumiya Haruhi is about 90% Kyon talking to himself.
- Koizumi's segments also tend to be this. Admittedly he usually has a relevant point eventually... but he has such a long-winded and tangential way of going about it that it still qualifies.
- Ergo Proxy, arguably to the point of overuse.
- Leeron from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann gives one of these around episode 22, about... gyroscopes.
- This is far from the only instance of this in the series. In the confrontations against two Big Bads both the villains and the protagonists start ranting a mile a minute about things like free will, determination, hope, despair, responsibility, and everything the series goes for. They never say anything terribly original or deep, but it's presented as though both sides are profound.
- Glass Fleet features Fauxlosophic Narration from Michel before the opening credits of each episode.
- Code Geass tends to do this during the "Previously On..." segments that are part of several episodes. The musings are usually meant to comment on the different twists and turns of Lelouch's current situation or his eventual fate, but some end up sounding a bit repetitive or go off into philosophical tangents.
- Bleach would sometimes, albeit rarely, do this. One such involved Yumichika saying a rather obvious musing of "Compared to letting it fall apart, holding it together is so much more difficult", talking about why Renji should just forget about Rukia after her adoption into the Kuchiki clan. And the Bount filler arc spends almost the entire last episode talking about circles. And saying the same things about them. Repeatedly.
- FLCL/Fooly Cooly/Furi Kuri. Naota usually begins each episode with some sort of semi-emo philosophical musings. He says several times throughout the six-episode series that "nothing exciting ever happens here. Everything is ordinary", which is clearly not the case, what with the fighting robots and such (though this is probably meant to be ironic).
- As the single most mature individual in the series, Noata is probably affecting what he thinks is an "adult" outlook. But most of his monologues are largely meaningless and inaccurate.
- A contrary-to-popular-expectations aversion: Neon Genesis Evangelion, despite actually having massive themes to talk about, focused its very occasional narration on either what's going on right now, the big alien that shows up next episode, or the Fan Service. You would really expect a story about Man destroying Angels and Screwing Destiny to have some of this going on.
- Not entirely, as existentialism plays a pretty big part in many episodes.
- And don't forget Rei's monologue.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's features lengthy inner monologues by the Wolkenritter, which mostly revolve around their perceived inability to have normal lives and impending failure to save the only person in the universe they care for.
- Done ingeniously in the Post Episode Trailers for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni in it's first season. The text that flies across the screen appears to be far more relevant to the next episode, and the deeper voice that talks stuff sounds like Fauxlosophic Narration—until you watch the second season when you realize exactly whose voice it is and how relevant it actually is to the real central plot.
- Also subverted in the second season, when the real protagonists do some narration that would normally be fauxlosophic... but not in their situation.
- On very rare occasions, the narration at the beginning of each episode of Gun X Sword refers to previous plot events in a helpful way, but it frequently falls into this sort of pseudo-philosophy. The over-the-top voice doing the narrating on the English dub makes matters worse.
- Every Next Episode Preview in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood consists of the pretentious musings of Father, and ends with a fauxlosophic one-liner for the ages (many of which border on So Bad It's Good in their blatant pseudo-profundity).
- What makes this especially fun is that these musings are entirely in-character for Father.
- Paranoia Agent has the Mysterious Old Man rambling on about seemingly completely random things during each preview. Not helping is that it includes puns that only work in Japanese.
- Done to Green Lantern by Tommy Monhagan in Hitman. Kyle Rayner is hoodwinked from all sides and ends up helping Tommy put the smack down on homicidal government agents. He ends waxing Fauxlosophic after the adventure. Before Kyle comes to his senses and arrests Tommy, he sneaks off.
- The infamous panel in the Doom Comic where the Doom Guy suddenly starts rambling about the need to preserve the environment for mankind's children in a somewhat eloquent way when he stumbles upon some toxic waste. All of this between spurting one-liners and killing monsters left and right.
- My Inner Life is a huge example of this. Jenna attempts to convince the readers that she is a deep, philosophical thinker in her prologue about dreams and past incarnations. The story is about Jenna's deluded fantasy that she was a Mary Sue of epic proportions in an alternate universe.
- The Beast of Yucca Flats was comprised almost entirely of the director Coleman Francis performing this sort of narration to avoid having to sync the soundtrack. Much of it has nothing to with the movie. Flag on the moon. How did it get there? A man murdered. A woman's purse. Nothing bothers some people. Not even flying saucers. A couple vacations, unaware of scientific progress. Man's inhumanity to man. Flag on the moon. Caught... in the wheels of progress.
- Subverted in Stranger Than Fiction The narration means something, even the scenes that appear to be random filler fold into Emma Thompson's story, and when the narrator talks about objects and events being meant to save our lives, she is talking literally...and literarily.
- Criswell's narration in Plan 9 from Outer Space and Night Of The Ghouls, both written and directed by Ed Wood. Neither examples are helped by the fact that the dialogue is extremely awkward or the fact that Criswell delivers it very oddly. You can tell he's reading it off of cue cards, likely without any prior rehearsal.
- In Glen or Glenda, Bela Lugosi's addled delivery of obtuse philosophical rants over Stock Footage of buffalo herds is memorable in a way Wood surely did not intend it to be.
- The Plan 9 narration is parodied in the biopic Ed Wood.
- Boondock Saints 2 opens with a Rocco voiceover that finds a fancy way to say "Doers do things, and talkers just talk." It isn't very long-winded though.
- The closing shot narration from the cinema release cut of Blade Runner definitely veers into this territory.
DECKARD: I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die.
- Especially egregious because the character in question had already said why he saved Deckard's life, and Deckard's narration directly contradicted it.
- Teenagers From Outer Space's opening scene. In fact, many B-movies from the 1950s and 1960s either began or ended with some amount of Fauxlosophic Narration.
- Howard the Duck, though it may have been a failed joke.
- Parodied in The Big Lebowski: the narrator is not only Wrong Genre Savvy, but can't keep his fauxlosophy straight and keeps getting sidetracked. At one point he repeats "Sometimes there's a man" a few times before trailing off and stating that he lost his train of thought. He eventually just gives up ("Aw, hell, I done introduced him enough."), and at the very end even lampshades it ("Huh - I'm ramblin' again."). Ironically, the last time he realizes this and gives up is when he's actually on the verge of making a sage, relevant point for once.
- Parodied in Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Criminologist, especially his closing lines.
- The first Left Behind movie opens with a Fauxlosophic Narration: short but tedious, described as "a vaguely foreboding series of non sequiturs", it might have been mildly effective delivered by a voice with some weight, gravitas, balls. Unfortunately it's read by Kirk Cameron, who lacks the gravitas to deliver "Happy Birthday" effectively.
- Raising Arizona. Done intentionally.
- The B-movie Zardoz begins with this, but there is no way to be profound when Sean Connery is running around in an red thong.
- Anatomy of Hell, a cold, sexually-explict, coma-inducing arthouse film by Catherine Breillat. As put by Roger Ebert: "They talk. They speak as only the French can speak, as if it is not enough for a concept to be difficult, it must be impenetrable. No two real people in the history of mankind have ever spoken like this, save perhaps for some of Breillat's friends that even she gets bored by. "Your words are inept reproaches," they say, and "I bless the day I was made immune to you and all your kind."
- The opening and closing of Sucker Punch involves narration about guardian angels, which are basically Sweet Pea's musings on the role that Baby Doll played in her life and, more immediately, springing her from the Bedlam House.
- Tons of Mondo-style films. To quote a review of Faces of Death, "we get long stretches where real or not, the footage has no death. And at one point, there aren’t any "faces" either, because the movie stops cold(er) for a good ten minutes to warn us about the dangers of littering and pollution. I bet your schoolyard pal never boasted about the cool scene where you see a bunch of beer and soda cans on a beach. We also get lectured on hunger, World War II, nuclear weapons, and being careful while hiking."
- The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan begins each book with an intro (to the intro) of the book which, despite being rather short relative to the books themselves, is still quite huge by conventional standards. Pops up additionally throughout the writing as well.
- Terry Pratchett does this occasionally, especially at the beginning of books, sometimes introducing a later-important Chekhov's Gun at the same time (just look at Interesting Times and the Quantum Weather Butterfly, which ends up saving Rincewind's life.)
- In-story example: Vetinari occasionally gets very non-sequitur-ishly philosophical. Could be deliberate, though, because anyone talking to him at the time finds it seriously disconcerting.
- The Fauxlosophic Narration is most often Played for Laughs as a parody of works that do this in all seriousness.
- In David Eddings' Belgariad, Belgarath poses the question "Why does two plus two equal four?", saying that he's been pondering it for millennia and hasn't been able to come up with an answer. He also asks a series of questions regarding basic natural phenomena, all of which stump Garion, though that's justified by the lack of universal education in a world of Medieval Stasis.
- R.A. Salvatore used to fall into this. Especially in Drizzt series that contain pages of his journal with musings of the protagonist on matters like morality, faith, and emotion. Despite being the most Head Desk-worthy, the latter mostly passes Author's Saving Throw: Drizzt was very young (by elven standards), grew up in a rather isolated city and had education focused less on what local high priestesses or even wizards learn and more on swinging a pair of oversized razors and not dying while trying to wage war in caverns full of ridiculously deadly lifeforms, through which he later wandered alone until gone half feral. It's not like he could do much better when trying to make sense of the suddenly complex world.
- This makes up about half of Jason X: Death Moon.
- Labyrinths of Echo had a moment when a dead and insane mage planning to misappropriate Sir Max's lifeforce started a long-winded pathos laden speech about his motives and significance of what's about to happen. In a way, this was understandable, because he first was imprisoned, then died and stuck around not corporeal enough to chat even with his victims. The annoyance and length of the rant helped his opponent to overcome paralysis. Hilarity Ensues, naturally.
- Heroes is infamous for this, with Mohinder (see the right page quote, above) starting and ending each episode with some random philosophy that often has only the flimsiest of connections to the episode itself.
- From the first episode of the second season- "The sun rises on a new dawn..." I mean, what the hell does that mean, Mohinder? "The story continues"? Yes, we knew that, Mohinder, that's why we're watching, shut up!
- However, Season 3, Episode 2 (the second half of the two-hour season premiere) ends with Mohinder reciting "The Second Coming", by William Butler Yeats ("Turning and turning in a widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer..."). This was not only a dead-on appropriate coda to the preceding two hours, but one of the best uses of an overused poem this troper has seen.
- In the official parody "Zeroes", the Mohinder stand-in is forced to stop his closing narration as a "sentence finisher" starts reading along with him.
- Occasionally other characters, such as Linderman or Sylar, got in on the act-though the one-off narrators tended to be a bit more relevant than Mohinder.
- This was basically the entire point of Augustus Hill on the show Oz. Some of the narration matched, but mostly it didn't.
- Tends to pop up in the opening video packages for WWE pay-per-view events.
- Probably somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of them. The rest are pretty blatant, "Hey, come check out grown men hitting each other with chairs and throwing each other around to make it look like it hurts without actually breaking their necks! Only this time ON A LADDER!!!"
- The beginning and end narrations on Desperate Housewives are full of musings on love, loss etc with only the barest of connections to the actual show.
- Arguably this applies to The X-Files, where it was common either for Mulder to go on at length about how there are more things in heaven and earth etc., or Scully to lecture about how science is the only reliable guide to the truth without which nothing makes sense yada yada.
- This was spoofed on an episode of The Simpsons when Mulder starts one of these in the day and by the time he finishes it has become night and everyone else including Scully has left the area.
Mulder: "Voodoo priests of Haiti! Tibetan numerologists of Appalachia! The unsolved mysteries of... Unsolved Mysteries!"
- Meredith's opening and closing narrations on Greys Anatomy sometimes fall into this rut.
- VR Troopers. Every one of the episodes (save one) over two seasons opened up with Ryan Steele musing about Life, The Universe, and the Monster of the Day, always tying it into some memory of his father. The guy had issues.
- Scrubs does the opposite with JD talking about the world and modern life in relation to events that are happening in the episode. This doesn't make it any less predictable or irritating though, especially when he literally does it every episode. Also, JD must have some latent psychic abilities to make connections between his philosophy of the day to things he has no in-character knowledge of, no matter how tenuous the link may be. This was recently lampshaded in an episode, where JD openly admitted that he was taking advice that was given to somebody else and using it for his own solution. When Jordan explained that seemed rather convenient, he would agree "except that he does it nearly every week."
- JD's constant talking and his vivid fantasy are one of the defining aspects of the series. The fauxlosophic narration is just one part of it.
- Touche, magic hallway
- The Hitchhiker had a few of these, that tried horribly to give the show a feeling of Film Noir.
- Early Edition often had this.
- The Outer Limits, both original and 90s revival, had the Control Voice give one of these speeches. Say it with me: "Do not attempt to adjust your set..."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this in "Passion", "Becoming, Part 1" (which was more of a case of bookends delivered by Whistler) and "Redefintion", including one narration by the villain.
- "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it." Yeah, it's a lot less profound than it sounds.
- As did Angel.
- Gil Grissom often lapses into Fauxlosophic Narration on CSI whenever the team encounters something offbeat, generally on the subject of human nature.
- Dead Like Me often has it, and often reiterates the same message that death is random, seems unfair, but is inevitable.
- Due South often opened or closed with Fraser Sr.'s voiceover reading extracts from his diary. But the man wrote beautifully, and the text always offered an interesting commentary on the main action.
- Carrie's Captain's Log s in Sex and the City- justified in that she's writing a newspaper column based on the events of her life.
- The Midnight Society had a variant on this: The kids knew they were spewing nonsense in the prefaces to their stories; it was all just to build atmosphere, and sometimes to mislead the audience on what their story was actually about.
- Bit of a subversion, Criminal Minds begins and/or ends each episode with one of the characters narrating a quotation, usually philosophical. And surprisingly, they usually DO have something to do with the episode, typically the nature of the killer.
- And a beautiful subversion on the episode where TV Genius Spencer Reid gives a victim's necklace back to her father, telling him that he doesn't recognize the piece of poem in it. The guy starts reciting it, and it is clear that it fills him with hope, so much that he cannot bring himself to finish it. Reid then leaves, and, being a genius who remembers each letter of every text he's read in his life, the finishing narration is him finishing the poem.
What though the radiance that was once so bright, be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
- The episode "True Night" opens with the killer, in voiceover, delivering an odd monologue about real darkness and how most people don't see it. It does make some sense when you watch the rest of the episode, though, and the killer is Ax Crazy anyway.
- The subversion at the end of the fourth season finale "...And Back" is probably one of the best. Rather than give the usual quote, Hotch gives his own opinions on the matter as he arrives at his home after a beatdown of a case only to discover that George Foyet aka "The Reaper" is waiting there for him.
Hotch: Sometimes there are no words, no clever quotes to neatly sum up what's happened that day. Sometimes you do everything right, everything exactly right, and still you feel like you failed. Did it need to end that way? Could something have been done to prevent the tragedy in the first place? Eighty-nine murders at the pig farm, the deaths of Mason and Lucas Turner make 91 lives snuffed out. Kelly Shane will go home and try to recover, to reconnect with her family but she'll never be a child again. William Hightower, who gave his leg for his country, gave the rest of himself to avenge his sister's murder. That makes 93 lives forever altered, not counting family and friends in a small town in Sarnia, Ontario, who thought monsters didn't exist until they learned that they spent their lives with one. And what about my team? How many more times will they be able to look into the abyss? How many more times before they won't ever recover the pieces of themselves that this job takes? Like I said, sometimes there are no words or clever quotes to neatly sum up what's happened that day.
- Done intentionally by Lars von Trier at the end of each episode of the original Kingdom series.
- Profit, though it's more like a demented corporate speaker spouting uplifting cliches that are undercut by the action just seen.
- MacGyver usually starts an episode with some unrelated adventure backed by a fauxlosophic voice-over by the man himself.
- Gossip Girl sometimes does this.
- How I Met Your Mother has Future!Ted provide narration like this, in addition to commenting on all the stupid things he and his friends used to do.
- In Plain Sight does this a lot, to the point that the narration often has an entirely different version from the subtitles.
- The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling's opening and closing monologues are simultaneously brilliant and brain-twisting. One generally needs to re-listen to Serling's soliloquoys three or four times before they stop sounding like so much word salad and start making sense. It's honestly just easier to read them. A lot of this is due to Serling's gumshoe delivery, which adds a healthy dose of mystery to what would otherwise be a commonplace prologue or summation.
- The second season opener of the horror anthology series The Hunger gives its narrator (played by David Bowie) a backstory that also helps explain his ramblings in subsequent episodes: He's a Mad Artist obsessed with death and shunned by society.
- Andromeda opened with the text of a different quote (usually at least bordering on this trope), sometimes real ones from actual real-world sources, often from some in-universe source.
- Godiva's used this to open and close each episode, even though the monologues (which were often food-related in keeping with the show's setting) rarely had anything to do with the story.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Horns of Nimon, Soldeed interprets everything Nimon says as this.
- The Mystery of Irma Vep ends with a melodramatic rambling speech by Lady Enid as she stares off over the blasted heath that ultimately has no purpose except to make fun of Victorian melodrama.
- Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II skirts this trope for the majority of her dialog, but tends to pull off something more to the effect of Contemplate Our Navels.
- The Super Mario World rom hack "Rise to the Challenge" is filled with this.
- Xenosaga has a generally good-quality narrative, but there are more than a few wince-worthy moments in ~120 hours of series gameplay.
- In the Game Mod Batman Doom, the text screens that pop up a few times throughout the game are filled with Batman's Narmful musings about how he's "the chosen one" to fight evil. In fact, the text screens are probably only there because there's no way to remove them from the game, so the modding team decided they might as well fill them with something vaguely relevant.
- The entréee of each and every serving of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Cutscenes are riddled with existential positing on the subject of hearts, darkness, power, light, nothingness, or destiny of the heart of darkness against the power of light and destiny.
- Max Payne's Private Eye Monologue musings often stray into this when he takes time off from capping mafiosos in order to muse about the nature of choice, the true meaning of fairy tales, and the end of the world.
- Like the anime example above, pick any serious webcomic. And even a few humorous ones.
- Appears occasionally in Molten Blade. Most of Fred's inner monologues fall into this category.
- Parodied by The Adventures of Dr. McNinja at the end of every chapter.
- Then parodies itself at the end of "Judy gets a kitten"
(Shows Dr.Mcninja at his desk)
- The much-maligned third season of Gargoyles had Goliath give one of these at the start of each episode. The season tacked on a subtitle ("The Goliath Chronicles") that was apparently there to convince us that somewhere, Goliath was actually writing down the incredibly generalized drivel he was spouting. Even Keith David's voice couldn't hold the attention of anyone over eight when he was reading that.
- The final moments of the 1994 Fantastic Four cartoon feature one of these between the Silver Surfer and Reed Richards, throwing in something about understanding humanity's nobility that didn't have a great deal to do with the plot. The DVD release cuts Reed's response as the Surfer flies off, removing the final shot of the series in doing so. Fortunately, the Liberation Entertainment release is slated to fix this.
- Spoofed to hell and back in Xavier: Renegade Angel.
- Each Episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars opens with a philosophical quote or pseudo-quote that tries to tie it in to the episode.
- The openings reek of fauxpraganda a la Starship Troopers - probably intentional.
- Spoofed at the end of Futurama episode "Love And Rocket," with Zoidberg's meditation on Valentine's Day:
"As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wondrous thing happened, why not. They vaporised into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets, including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one planet was at exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays, but not be destroyed by them: Earth. So all over the world, couples stood together in joy. And me, Zoidberg! And no one could have been happier unless it would have also been Valentine's Day. What? It was? Hooray!"
- The narrator of The Scary Door intros tends to do this as well, in a spoof of The Twilight Zone. And boy howdy do they play with it:
"Imagine, if you will, an announcer you can barely understand. He refers to a (mumble) but you're not sure what he said. He seems to be eating or maybe he's a little drunk. It's possible he just said something about...The Scary Door."
- Parodied in almost every episode of The Tick (animation), as the titular character was quite fond of it.
Tick: Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once. Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope. And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception.